Global (R)Evolution Panel Series: Canada’s Commitment to Net Zero

WHAT WE HEARD: Canada's Commitment to Net Zero 2050 and its Link to Global Development Efforts

There is an injustice in that the poorest countries are disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change. To help low income countries, at COP15 the world’s wealthy nations committed, by 2020, to reaching $100B of annual climate financing but alas, have yet to reach that target. Further, the Paris Agreement was a commitment by all nations to decrease GHG emissions and keep earth temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

When it comes to global warming, Canada’s emissions are part of the problem. When it comes to mitigation and adaptation, Canada is a wealthy country with a responsibility to contribute to the COP15 commitment. Canada is due to renew its Climate Finance pledge in a few months. Canada’s private sector and government have also signaled their intentions to decrease GHG emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to make net zero by 2050 a reality for Canada. On the one hand, the road to net zero 2050 is not an easy one and a path that is fraught with confusion, soft commitments, and a constantly shifting economic backdrop that threatens real investment. We must be certain we have a strong plan. On the other hand, our efforts domestically may be a way to contribute to a global movement toward net zero. It is crucial that we consider all opportunities to contribute.

Canada has shown that it can be a leader in this space but it requires us as a country to take some extra steps to ensure we are providing the best support domestically and internationally as we look to fight climate change.

Over our weekend of expert panel discussions, we heard from our panelists on these questions and here’s what they told us: 

Vaccine equity is also a climate change issue. We must Immediately contribute and ensure global equitable vaccine access. 

There will be no addressing climate change without addressing global vaccine access. If we can not successfully work with other countries and find ways for equitable access to vaccines that will be a signal to the partners around the world that they can’t rely on us to help with something as large as climate change. Developing countries will not be willing or able to come to the table to make efforts on climate change if we are leaving them behind in the fight against the pandemic. Effective United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations require full participation of Global South countries, and this can only happen if those countries have access to a vaccine and their delegates are able to participate in person. Ensuring that everyone around the world has access to a vaccine as quickly as possible is the first step to collectively coming together to work on climate change and positively reinforcing our commitments to our global partnerships. 

Canada can lead in a global Just Transition. We must drive down the cost of technologies used in reducing or preventing emissions and implement domestic policies that bind industry to reduce emissions, while ensuring that the workers affected by the changes are treated and supported in a just and fair way.   

As a country that grew rapidly through the widespread use of fossil fuel based resources, we must hold ourselves accountable for the emissions we have produced in the past and the emissions we emit today. We must work with developing countries to help stem emissions while continuing to access the economic growth that we have enjoyed on the back of a century’s worth of carbon emissions. This requires us to look at this issue as a collective action problem. Once we are visibly achieving our own targets, we have a license to be working with others to ensure they are supported in meeting theirs. 

When we look at Canadian technology that is being created and used here in Canada to drive down emissions, we should find ways to drive down the costs of these technologies so others can benefit from its use and implementation outside of Canada. With developments on building retrofits, carbon capture technology, hydroelectric power, wind power, and developments in clean transportation, Canada can do a lot across its clean tech industry to help remove barriers and cost to improve emission reducing efforts.

We can also approach this from a domestic policy perspective. We can lead by learning what it takes to successfully undergo a Just Transition. If we can demonstrate successful policy measures and how they are reducing emissions but also channeling equality and fairness simultaneously especially for the communities most dependent on fossil fuel industries, other countries will be able to look at those successes and implement similar policy mechanisms to stem emissions while ensuring a fair and equal transition for workers in carbon intensive businesses. This can be supported through carbon budget allocations that are split among industries, while continuing to implement and use a carbon tax approach nationally.

Providing better access to Global Climate Finance for Low and Middle Income Countries. 

As it currently stands it is quite difficult for developing countries to get access to global climate finance either due to restrictions from the World Bank and/or the need for national government guarantee which is hard to get in situations where cities and their national governments are at political odds. Looking at ways to address this lack of access will be crucial for developing economies to get the needed resources to transition.  Without the necessary financial resources developing countries will not be able to adapt and mitigate emissions at the pace that is needed to reach 2030 and 2050 milestones, especially since many of these economies are reliant on fossil fuel based energy sources and emissions heavy infrastructure.



“Climate Change & Canada’s Commitment to Net Zero by 2050” 
  • Christopher Evans; Deputy Director of Energy Transition & Finance, Environment & Climate Change Canada
  • Dale Beugin; Research and Analysis Vice President, Canadian Institute for Climate Choices
  • David Miller; Managing Director, International Diplomacy and Advocacy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
  • Vanessa Corkal; Policy Analyst, International Institute for Sustainable Development


Watch the Canada's Commitment to Net Zero Panel: